Medical Malpractice Insurance Primer
Tennessee Medical Malpractice Basics
- Number of malpractice suits filed annually decreased 36% between the year prior to tort reform (2007) and 2012.
- Number of Active Physicians in the state: approximately 17,500 as of September 2014
- Number of medical professional liability insurance providers in the state: 100 as of 2013
Tort reform has only recently come to Tennessee, but its effects are already quite noticeable. In the wake of high rates and concerns over the number of doctors willing to practice in high-risk specialties, the Tennessee legislature passed a tort reform package in 2008. This initial round of reforms focused on weeding out frivolous or meritless lawsuits by requiring that insurance providers receive notice of a possible action against them at least 60 days in advance, and that within 90 days of filing a claim, plaintiffs get written certification from an expert witness that he or she believes the claim to have merit.
In addition to these reforms, on October 1, 2011, the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011 went into effect. Most notably, this legislation provides for damage caps on non-economic and punitive damages in medical malpractice cases. The basic caps are $750,000 on noneconomic damages (i.e., pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, etc.), and $500,000 on punitive damages (i.e., damages awarded as punishment in cases of severe negligence, malicious intent, etc.).
There are a few exceptions to the general rule regarding non-economic damages, most notably that if the injury caused is catastrophic, defined as leading to paralysis, amputation, burns, or the wrongful death of the parent of a minor, the cap is increased to $1M. Likewise, in cases of intentional harm, malicious intent, cover-up, or other gross negligence, no cap will be applicable.
Statute of Limitations
The basic statute of limitations in Tennessee requires that a case be brought within one year after the death or injury occurred, or was discovered, or should reasonably have been discovered given due diligence. However, this statute is subject to a statute of repose, which states that no case may be brought more than three years after the date of the alleged injury, regardless of the date of discovery.
There are a few exceptions to this:
- If a foreign object is left in a patient’s body, the statute of repose does not apply. They have one year to file a claim from the time the injury is discovered.
- If the injured party is a minor, he or she has one year from the time of turning 18 to file a claim.
- In the case of someone who is mentally unsound, the statute of limitations is tolled, or paused, until the person attains relief from the condition, at which point the statute begins rolling again.
Summary of the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Insurance Market
Tennessee is in a much better place in terms of the risk environment for physicians than they were just a few years ago. Since implementing the initial round of tort reform in 2008, the number of cases filed annually has dropped by more than 35%. In addition, while the changes are recent enough that there is not a lot of data yet, presumably the 2011 reforms will only continue or supplement this trend. Even if lawsuits are already about as low as they are going to go in terms of frequency, the damage caps will likely reduce average costs of suits. These two factors together reduced numbers, and severity of cases are expected to cause premiums to continue to drop in the state. Right now, Tennessee is a very good place to practice medicine with a stable market and a risk environment that is driving insurance costs down.
External Links & Resources for Tennessee Physicians & Surgeons
- Tennessee Medical Association (TMA)
- Tennessee Hospital Association (THA)
- Tennessee Osteopathic Medical Association (TOMA)
- Tennessee Podiatric Medical Association
- Tennessee ASC Association (TASCA)
- The Memphis Medical Society
- Tennessee Medical Group Management Association
- Tennessee Medical Association Alliance
Want to learn more about medical malpractice insurance policies in your state? Call our main office in St. Louis, Missouri, at (855) 823-5283 for all your questions about malpractice policies in Tennessee. Get your free quote today!
START SAVING NOW!
Fill out the form below to request your free, no-obligation quotes or call us toll-free at (855) 823-5283 today.
Why Choose eQuoteMD™ to Obtain Lower Premiums for Medical Malpractice Insurance for your Practice?
Multiple Rate Quotes
Average Savings over 20%
Quality Coverage Guaranteed
Occurrence or Claims-Made
Tail Coverage Policies
Every Specialty & Facility
For first year physicians
Top Rated Companies